After Isles rebuff, Ehrhoff’s rights sent to Buffalo

Almost exactly 24 hours after his rights were acquired by the New York Islanders, Christian Ehrhoff saw his rights dealt away again as the Buffalo Sabres sent a 2012 fourth-round pick to Long Island for the opportunity to negotiate with the defenseman.

Ehrhoff has officially become this summer's Dan Hamhuis after the Canucks defenseman saw his rights dealt to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in less than a week a year ago.

The acquisition is a bit of a gamble by Sabres GM Darcy Regier as Ehrhoff turned down multi-year offers from the Vancouver Canucks and Islanders this week, a signal that he's deadset on testing the free agent waters.

But it's also a sign of the Terry Pegula Era in Buffalo. An era where the Sabres are a big player in free agency and spending won't be an issue for Regier to bring in high-caliber players, something he talked about earlier this week.

Talks betwen Ehrhoff's agent Rick Curran and Islanders GM Garth Snow broke down this afternoon and even if the same happens with the Sabres, the sign here from both clubs is that they're willing to spend the money to bring in free agents.

From Katie Strang of Newsday (sub. required):

Snow would not divulge his ultimate offer to Ehrhoff, but it was well north —in dollar amount and length of contract—of what Vancouver gave Ehrhoff's fellow defenseman Kevin Bieksa. Several reports had the Canucks offering Ehrhoff a multi-year pact similar to Bieksa's five-year $23 million deal.

"We made a significant offer," Snow said when reached by phone Wednesday. "I don't want to get into specific numbers, but I felt like we made a good offer and a good run to get Christian to sign."

So Snow recoups the fourth-round pick he dealt away to Vancouver on Tuesday, while the Sabres have a little more than 24 hours to try and convince Ehrhoff to stay off the open market.

Curran told WGR 550 Wednesday night that his client wants to play for a contender. "Anytime you make proactive decisions, it's a positive in terms of the direction of the club and their desire to improve the team," said Curran.

Again, it's a gamble, but Pegula has the deeper wallet to spend and the Sabres can front-load the contract to entice Ehrhoff to sign on the dotted line before Friday.

UPDATE: The Sabres have traded the negotiating rights to Steve Montador to the Chicago Blackhawks.

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